Thursday's NBA: East contenders make their moves
Toronto, Milwaukee and Philadelphia made their moves. Anthony Davis will have to wait until the summer for his.
The New Orleans Pelicans held onto Davis but dealt Nikola Mirotic to the Bucks, one of the Eastern Conference contenders who fortified their teams on Thursday before the NBA trade deadline.
The Raptors are getting former All-Star center Marc Gasol from Memphis.
The 76ers, a day after acquiring forward Tobias Harris from the Clippers, sent Markelle Fultz to Orlando and will hope Jonathan Simmons can provide some production where the former No. 1 pick couldn’t.
All the trades were confirmed to The Associated Press by people with knowledge of the details because they couldn’t be announced before they were approved by the NBA.
A busy swap season that included Dallas’ acquisition of Kristaps Porzingis from New York ended without a move for Davis, the player who dominated the discussion in recent weeks.
The Pelicans didn’t find a deal for Davis, who had requested a trade and informed the team he wouldn’t sign a contract extension this summer.
But the Lakers couldn’t put together a strong enough package to the Pelicans’ liking for the All-Star forward, who will go back into the trade market after the season ends.
There will be other marquee names available then with a free agent class that could be highlighted by players such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard.
The Boston Celtics didn’t jump into the trading deadline fray but may try to get involved in the summer.
For now, the Celtics appear to feel they have enough to win the East.
The other conference contenders looked for upgrades – and went out and got some that likely will fit well.
Milwaukee (40-13) already has the NBA’s best record and Mirotic’s outside-shooting ability for a big man would appear to fit perfectly in a lineup around superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Two games back of the Bucks, the Raptors sent center Jonas Valanciunias to Memphis to acquire Gasol.
Valanciunas had been coming off the bench and Toronto coach Nick Nurse will have to decide whether he uses Gasol in the same manner, or returns to a traditional bigger lineup with the former defensive player of the year in the middle.
The 76ers have made two major trades during the season, previously getting Jimmy Butler from Minnesota before the deal to bring in Harris.
Stauskas dealt again
Former Michigan Wolverine Nik Stauskas and Wade Baldwin were on the move yet again, this time going from the Houston Rockets to the Indiana Pacers.
The deal was done largely to get Houston under the luxury tax threshold, according to the person who spoke Thursday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it is pending league approval. ESPN first reported the trade.
It has been an eventful stretch for Stauskas and Baldwin.
They started the week with Portland, then were traded to Cleveland, then Houston and now Indiana.
And it remains unclear if the Pacers will keep them, meaning more moves for Stauskas and Baldwin are possible.
All-Star Game rosters
LeBron James finally has Anthony Davis as a teammate.
For one game.
His Los Angeles Lakers were unable to swing a deal for Davis, but James drafted the New Orleans Pelicans star on Thursday when he and fellow captain Giannis Antetokounmpo sat down to choose their teams for the Feb. 17 All-Star Game in Charlotte.
Davis told the Pelicans he wanted a trade, and James has made it clear that he’d love to play with him.
But for now, their time as teammates will be limited to All-Star weekend.
James chose Kevin Durant with the No. 1 overall pick, as he did last year in the All-Star draft, to be one of his starters.
They’ll be joined in the Team LeBron starting five by Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden. Team Giannis, in addition to Antetokounmpo, will start Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, Paul George and hometown favorite Kemba Walker.
Antetokounmpo took his Milwaukee teammate Khris Middleton with the first pick in the reserve round, along with Nikola Jokic, Ben Simmons, Pistons forward Blake Griffin, D’Angelo Russell, Nikola Vucevic and Kyle Lowry. James took Davis, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, LaMarcus Aldridge, Karl-Anthony Towns and Bradley Beal.
James managed to make a trade, convincing Antetokounmpo to swap Westbrook for Simmons – and give the Bucks’ star the chance to have Westbrook and Embiid together, as he said he wanted.
The NBA signed off on the trade.